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Center needs cash or pool won't open

May 12, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

The Memorial Recreation Center will close its doors at the end of the month unless it can raise nearly $25,000 to open its swimming pool for the summer, its director said.

Ruth Monroe, director of the center, said there will be another extensive shortfall later this year even if the center operates through the summer.

Monroe said the facility, at 109 W. North Ave., does not have enough money to start the summer season. Monroe said it will cost approximately $45,000 to pay for prepare the pool for the season, purchase chemicals and hire lifeguards and other part-time staff.

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Monroe said representatives of the center have asked the county and the Washington County Gaming Commission for assistance to cover a shortfall of approximately $25,000, and will meet with city officials Tuesday at City Hall to discuss the shortfall.

She said it is important to keep the center open through the summer because, based on past use, between 50 and 100 children are expected to swim in the pool daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"We have this great big pool here. Why should they have to be transported somewhere else?" Monroe said.

"I grew up here learning to swim in this pool. We want these children to have the same opportunities we had when we were coming up," she said.

Monroe said the shortfall was created when the center received only $17,000 from the United Way for the 2004-05 fiscal year. She said the amount was much less than anticipated.

Monroe said a community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the center for area residents to discuss a way to keep it open. She said residents from the nearby Jonathan Street area requested the meeting be held.

"They want to let the community know what's going on," Monroe said. "There've been a lot of rumors out there."

Monroe said the center will need $65,000 to $70,000 to remain open through the rest of the fiscal year. Still, she said the center's main focus currently is finding an immediate funding source for the warm weather season.

"We're going to go one day at a time and focus on the pool right now so kids have somewhere to go this summer," she said.

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